English:Petition to change Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) Plan on Nakaikemi-shicchi Ramsar Site

Nakaikemi-shicchi wetland in Tsuruga city was listed under Ramsar Convention July 2012 after long years of conservation movements. Right after the long-sought conservation decision arrived, however, it was revealed that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had approved the plan of Hokuriku shinkansen going through the Ramsar site.
Requesting a change to the railway construction plan, Japan Wetlands Action Network (JAWAN) handed a petition dated Jan 7th to the Ministry of the Environment, with carbon-copies mailed to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the head office and Hokuriku Shinkansen Construction Bureau of Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency, as well as Tsuruga Mayor and Fukui Governor.

The following is an English translation of the petition

January 7, 2013

To Mr. Nobutersu Ishihara, the Minister of the Environment,

Atsuo Tsuj

Nakaikemi-shicchi in Tsuruga, Fukui, was adopted as part of Echizen Kaga Coast Quasi-National Park in December 2011 and approved as a Ramsar site in July 2012.
The Hokuriku shinkansen construction plan approved by the government in June 2012 was revealed in August 2012 to have been changed from its older plan so as it passes under the Ramsar site. The change of plan is not just inappropriate but unfortunate because the railway cuts deeper into the wetland than the old plan. The change is going to drastically harm the preservation of Nakaikemi ecosystems.

Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance pledged by national governments in the international arena to be conserved for the future. The Ramsar Convention provides that the Contracting Parties recognize the interdependence of Man and his environment, desire to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, and ensure the conservation of wetlands and their flora and fauna by combining far-sighted national policies with co-ordinated international action. In spite of this, the Hokuriku Shinkansen construction plan was disclosed, right after Nakaikemi became a Ramsar site, to pass through Nakaikemi-shicchi, significantly undermining Ramsar Secretariat and the other Parties’ trust and confidence in the Japanese government.
The planned line goes across mountains surrounding the wetland It is projected that the railway would sever water systems and underground water veins, disrupting the water environment and water supply systems, and resulting in fatal damage to the hitherto desirable natural environment of Nakaikemi wetland.

Nakaikemi is a special wetland with a “sediment-filled valley,” formed by the accumulation of peat layers in a valley for over 100,000 years. The Ushirodani area (called “Oshatan” locally) has habitats of endangered species and is crucially important to the conservation of biodiversity. The plan, however, places the north portal of the railway tunnel there, meaning, in terms of conservation of ecosystems and scenery, a harmful impact on the site as a whole is inevitable.

Dear Nobuteru Ishihara, the Minister of the Environment,
The Ministry of the Environment served as a window responsible for the application of Nakaikemi to the Ramsar Secretariat for inclusion in the Ramsar List. This holds the Minister of the Environment responsible for ensuring and watching the Ramsar sites’ conservation after the site was listed.

JAWAN hereby requests strongly that Japanese government, as a Ramsar Convention party, complies with its international responsibilities and changes Hokuriku Shinkansen construction plan promptly. The change of the plan should pay special attention to natural environments of the Nakaikemi-shicci Ramsar site for water circulation, ecosystems, scenery, noise pollution, vibration and so on, and not affect its surrounding areas.

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